OMAHA, Neb. -- The Creighton women's soccer team, regular-season and tournament champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, will head to Minneapolis, Minn. to play Minnesota on Friday, November 12, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Proposed start time is 6 p.m., following the opening match of North Dakota State and Texas A&M.
Creighton (15-3-2), winners of 13 of its last 14 matches, earned its NCAA Tournament bid with a 2-1 overtime victory over Missouri State on Sunday. This will be the program's fifth appearance, as the Bluejays also reached the NCAA Tournament in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The Bluejays have outscored the opposition 48-14 this season and boast four different players with seven goals or more. Sophomore Brittney Neumann was named MVC Player of the Year after leading the league with nine goals, while junior Andrea Zuniga led the league with 25 points and nine assists. Junior Erin Gunther, who scored the game-winning goal in the MVC title game, tied for the Valley lead with four game-winning goals on the season. In goal, junior Alicia Montgomery has allowed just nine goals in 15 matches played and tops the MVC with a 0.66 goals against average.
Minnesota went 12-5-3 this season, including a 4-4-2 mark in the Big Ten Conference. The Gophers are 5-2-1 when playing at home, outscoring opponents 13-5 and posting three shutouts in those eight matches. They average 1.85 goals per match on 16.4 shots per match. The Gophers have outscored opponents in the first period 18-3 this season, 37-15 overall. Shari Eckstrom is leading the offensive charge with seven goals, while Katie Bethke has 13 assists on the season (tied for sixth in the country). Minnesota's goalkeeper Cat Parkhill has started all 20 matches in the net this season, holding down a 0.73 goals against average and six shutouts on the season.
The matchup marks the fifth time the two teams will meet up in program history, with Creighton holding a 2-1-1 advantage over the Gophers. The most recent match between the two teams was September 7, 2008, inthe Regina Moench Memorial Tournament in St. Paul, Minn. The Gophers came out with a 3-0 victory at home. Both Bluejay victories over the Gophers came during the 1993 season. Creighton opened up the season with a 3-2 victory in Minneapolis, and then outlasted Minnesota 1-0 in overtime in the Creighton Fall Classic in Omaha.
Check www.gocreighton.com for all the latest updates on the first round matchup. Information on live stats and video feed will be announced as soon as it becomes available.
Creighton has many connections to their first round opponent, making the two teams interesting first round competitors.
- Head coach Bruce Erickson is a native of Brooklyn Park, Minn., which is just 25 minutes northwest of the Minnesota campus.
- The Gophers are coached by Mikki Denney Wright, the daughter of Nebraska-Omaha wrestling coach Mike Denney. She is in her seventh season at the helm of the Gophers and has an 80-49-12 record. Denney Wright coached the 2008 team to the Sweet Sixteen and won the Big Ten Conference that season.
- Creighton has three Bluejays on their current roster who hail from Minnesota. Senior midfielder Emily Orbell is from White Bear Lake, Minn., junior defender Macy Mauer came to Creighton from Woodbury, Minn., and sophomore defender Kelsey Crocker is originally from Mendota Heights, Minn. All three of the players are within 25 minutes of the Gophers campus.
- Current Bluejay men's soccer player Brent Kallman is from Woodbury, Minn. Kallman's two older sisters, Krystle and Kylie, are a part of the Minnesota Gopher team. Krystle played her final season at Minnesota and is now an assistant coach, while Kylie is currently a senior for the Gophers.
- You may recognize the last name of Macy Mauer and relate it to another famous Minnesota name - she is a cousin of the professional baseball player Joe Mauer who plays for the Minnesota Twins. A catcher for the Twins, Joe has been part of the all-star game and is an MVP in his career.